Insecure is now in its third season, and the show’s success lies in its unapologetic blackness—something that the black people who watch it can relate to. In a recent interview, Issa Rae said the show’s magic is rooted in its predominantly minority crew and the fact that it doesn’t try to explain blackness to nonblack people.
During a shoot for the October cover of Glamour magazine, Rae told The Shade Room creator Angelica Nwandu that when it came to creating her famous, relatable character, “There was no blueprint to do this. There was no one I could look to to be like, ‘Oh, so-and-so made some videos and then had a television show, and then did movies.’ You kind of just do it.”
The characters Rae created for the show as well as the places they live, work and thrive are all intentional in their unapologetic blackness.
South Los Angeles, known as a socio-cultural center for black Los Angelenos, serves as another character in her series. The area is currently going through the pains of gentrification—something that Rae has purposely chosen not to hide from her viewers.
“White people left the neighborhood, there was white flight, and now they’re coming back and pushing us out,” Rae told Nwandu. “I’m moving back there—that’s what I want—but I’ve already seen the change. It’s disheartening.”
The staff on her show, however, is not gentrified—and that too is on purpose.
Although 62 percent of her viewers are not black, Rae said she sees the benefit in “surrounding myself with people of color. I could never do this show and have a predominantly white staff.”
Nwandu likens Rae’s work to a form of activism because she creates a space for dialogue around topics such as sexuality, mental health and blackness—and she does it all while presenting images of black people who are talented, proud and “innately worthy of screen time.”
“I just want to do my pure story, and if I’m not, it’s just not worth it. And Prentice [Penny, executive producer and showrunner of Insecure] feels the same,” Rae said. “Sometimes the white writers will be like, ‘I didn’t even know what that line meant until I watched the show,’ and I’m like, ‘That’s OK. There are some things that are just for us.’ ”
And is in that space that Insecure exists to entertain, enlighten, create conversations and keep unapologetic blackness in a highly visible position—as it should be.